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I'm reading the Economist and since I really don't know much about the American politics I got confused for the following statement:

...(Gorsuch) has been solicitous of religious corporations and nuns seeking exemptions from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate and...

So what is the contraceptive mandate by Obamacare and why the religious group are seeking exemptions? What is the causality and relationship...?

...(Gorsuch) rejects liberal objections to public religious displays like the Ten Commandments in public parks.

I'm not sure about the meaning of the sentence. Does "reject liberal objections" means that he may object it but just don't want to make it clear? What is his attitude?

And finally

His unwillingness to defer to bureaucracies complements the small government ethos that prompted the executive order Mr Trump announced on Jan 30th slashing business regulations.

Can anyone briefly introduce the regulations here? My understanding here is that the "small government ethos", as indicated in Wikipedia, tries to "let it go" towards some issues and regulations. But I didn't see why Mr Gorsuch's unwillingness to join the government (or just his dislike towards the bureaucracies) is related to the ethos?

I've tried to search many things on google for most part of the article Donald Trump taps Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. But my poor politics background and English comprehension make it really hard for me to understand.

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So what is the contraceptive mandate by Obamacare and why the religious group are seeking exemptions? What is the causality and relationship...?

This gets technical legal details, but the high level is that Obamacare mandates that contraception be part of all insurance plans, and that in some cases employers must provide insurance options. That includes religious groups who are opposed to abortion and contraception. This passage specifically refers to The Little Sisters of the Poor who had sued the federal government over these provisions of Obamacare.

I'm not sure about the meaning of the sentence. Does "reject liberal objections" means that he may object it but just don't want to make it clear? What is his attitude?

There is a concept in the United States called the separation of Church and State. In short it means that the government shouldn't be sticking its finger in religious matters, and vice versa. In some cases some local governments have put up the 10 commandments in various forms on government land (example). Broadly speaking liberals are against this (ie they object). Gorsuch rejects the liberal view here. According to this article he believes that its fine to display the 10 commandments.

Can anyone briefly introduce the regulations here? My understanding here is that the "small government ethos", as indicated in Wikipedia, tries to "let it go" towards some issues and regulations. But I didn't see why Mr Gorsuch's unwillingness to join the government (or just his dislike towards the bureaucracies) is related to the ethos?

This, again, is a topic on which there are literally entire books written on. The high level is that the typical conservative position is that big government is bad (for various reasons such as efficiency, cost, corruption, freedom and more) and we should strive towards a smaller government that gives more control to the people and the markets. Gorsuch, as a conservative, is not unwilling to join the government, he has been a civil servant for his whole life. He just believes that the government should not be doing everything.

Note that I am not trying to endorse any point of view here.

  • Thank you David! Very detailed. Being a nonnative without much politics knowledge, I've been struggle so hard to understand them. – Aeiong Feb 3 '17 at 20:09
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So what is the contraceptive mandate by Obamacare and why the religious group are seeking exemptions? What is the causality and relationship...?

Obamacare regulations mandate that all employers offer health insurance that pays for certain kinds of contraception. Anti-abortion activists believe that some of these forms of contraception abort fertilized eggs. In particular, some kinds of intrauterine devices (IUDs) and "morning-after" pills. This is disputed by pro-abortion people. Regardless, some object to those forms of contraception as causing abortions. Also, nuns think that they don't need contraception, as they are celibate.

So a nunnery sued the federal government for forcing them to pay for health insurance that included contraception. Gorsuch sided with the nuns.

Does "reject liberal objections" means that he may object it but just don't want to make it clear? What is his attitude?

The first amendment prohibits the federal government from establishing a religion. The fourteenth amendment is generally interpreted as extending that to state and local governments. Some (the liberals with objections) interpret that prohibition as barring religious displays from public ground, as that could be interpreted as favoring one religion (the one included) over others. Gorsuch thinks that is going too far. I.e. he rejects that view.

I don't know his exact views on the matter. Some believe that it is enough to simply offer all religions equal opportunity to put up relevant displays. Others go further and believe that the prohibition against establishment of a religion equally prevents suppression of such religious displays.

From one of your Economist quotes:

His unwillingness to defer to bureaucracies

There is a principle called Chevron deference that basically says that courts should assume that regulatory agencies are correctly interpreting the law in any regulations that they promulgate. The argument in favor of this is that the people at the regulatory agencies are experts on the subject that they are regulating.

This is a general principle. The regulations could be environmental, workplace safety, consumer finance, corporate accounting, etc.

Gorsuch believes that it is up to the legislature to write the laws and the judiciary to interpret them. So in his opinion, judges' interpretations (including his) should overrule those of regulators.

In my opinion, the Economist is confusing things here. Chevron deference would be to Trump's advantage at the moment, as he controls the regulators. Gorsuch's view is that the executive has to enforce the laws as written. They can't reinterpret them. Perhaps the Economist is trying to argue that Gorsuch will help minimize regulations after Trump leaves office.

I'm also not convinced that Donald Trump has a "small government ethos". While Trump ran as a Republican, he has previously been involved with various other parties. In particular he has donated more money to Democrats than Republicans. His ethos seems to be related more to being anti-regulation. As a business owner, he is familiar with how regulations can be troublesome without being effective. Trump likes many aspects of big government, e.g. military and infrastructure spending.

Other Republicans do have a "small government ethos". For example, Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul would fit that description. Also, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Incidentally, I'm guessing that the executive order to which they referred was the one where Trump established the principle that for each new regulation added, two older regulations would be removed. The idea being that making regulators choose between new and old regulations would weed out the inefficient regulations. Note that some feel that that is overoptimistic and/or oversimplistic.

  • 'I'm also not convinced that Donald Trump has a "small government ethos"." - +10 just for that comment. Might be worth a separate question to detail... – user4012 Feb 3 '17 at 12:26

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